12. November 2010 10:56
Ever wonder if your gifts to Lutheran Social Services of Michigan make a difference? They did for Jacob Atem. He arrived in Michigan from a refugee camp in Africa. We gave him a foster home and family through our unaccompanied refugee minor foster care program. Now he is building a health clinic in Sudan and speaking at the United Nations.
“When I was about 6 years old, my parents were killed by Northern Sudanese Arabs militias waging war on Southern Sudan,” Jacob said. “My older cousin, Michael, and I had taken our goats and cows to find grass and water. We heard the attack and saw the smoke from our burning village. From that day on, Michael became my protector. During our thousand-mile journey to Ethiopia, he often carried me on his back for six or seven hours. Michael saved my life many times.”
The two ate mud and dodged lions and bullets. Jacob never lost his faith in God. “I’ve been called a Lost Boy, but I’m not lost from God,” Atem said. He graduated from high school and Spring Arbor University, became an American citizen, and is finishing a Master of Public Health degree from Michigan State University.
He and his friend, Lual Deng, started the nonprofit Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (www.sshco.org) to raise money and build a medical clinic in Jacob’s home town. “Currently, there is a rusty, bullet-riddled dispensary that managed to survive the war, where the people receive little or no healthcare assistance,” he said.
Jacob recently spoke at the United Nations for a gathering of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and has been invited back. He says he owes everything to Lutheran Social Services of Michigan for the opportunities he’s been given. Help us minister to more people like Jacob with a contribution to Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. Visit our website to contribute online, or call Doug Lachniet at (616) 443-9761. You can make a difference in someone’s life!